Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” – Luke 24:13-24
I am scheduled for surgery tomorrow (today when you’re reading this on Monday). It’s been on the radar for some time, and for the most part I’ve pretty well passed it off as no big deal. As the time approaches, however, it seems to be more of a deal. It’s beginning to sink in: I’m going to under go major joint replacement surgery. Ugh. I know it will be OK, and I’ll be OK. But the reality of all this is dawning on me.
I wonder if this is at all like what the disciples were feeling that first Easter evening – only in my case facing the negative, but in their case beginning to embrace the possibilities of life with a resurrected Lord. But at the time all they saw was clouded by their disappointment. Even when Jesus showed up and joined them on the road they still didn’t understand. In fact, even though they were told by some of their companions that the tomb was empty, it was hard to conceive of his actually being alive.
I wonder how often we’re on this same road – knowing but not knowing, understanding but not understanding. The reality and implications of Jesus’ resurrection are difficult to embrace fully. What does this mean? How does this work? We still see death all around us. We still stumble and fall. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us, but we are so weak. How does this work?
I suspect at least part of all this has to do with our need simply to live by faith in Jesus. We need to trust him, his good will toward us, his power over all things, his making a way for us to come to God and live under him in his kingdom. Understanding and putting the pieces all together is a life-long pursuit. It comes when we realize Jesus’ love is more precious than anything else in the world. It is made stronger as we look for Jesus’ direction and wisdom in the throes of everyday life. Sometimes we most fully experience this when we run out of our own explanations, understandings, and strength.
I’m not sure that the Emmaus road disciples were particularly aware of how close they were to the fullness of the rule and reign of God as Jesus joined them along the road. I’m thinking that is much the same for us as we make our way through life. I’m wondering how often we fail to recognize it when Jesus is present, and at work in our life.
Thankfully, however, Jesus does not depend on our understanding before he shows up with his favor and blessing. I’m counting on that tomorrow (today when you’re reading this) – especially as I undergo surgery. But it’s worth counting on every day.